You don’t recognize dementia for a long time. In fact, why would anyone want to recognize this disease in a much loved parent?
In retrospect, the dementia first came into our family several years ago. A stroke made the symptoms worse. We noticed clothes not being hung up, keys being lost, a concern about valuables being stolen, and more. And then there was the increasing anxiety about change and new people. We never put the whole picture together. I guess this is because we humans are so resilient that we try hard to recognize normal behavior whenever we can. Don’t we all forget where we put things and lose keys? Not to mention forgetting to hang up clothes.
However it was not any one or two characteristics but the configuration of them. And it still took an outside observer, a staff member and administrator who works with seniors in our Chesterbrook assisted living facility, to help us clearly understand. After that it sure was easy to look back to see and understand just how dementia creeps along into a life … and how it crept into ours.
Good Introductions to Dementia
My family really knows what this is like. My brother and I noticed troubling symptoms in my Dad a few years ago, ones that seemed to be out of character for him and not normal for his age either (he was in his late 50s at the time). We asked our parents to get medical advice, but both of our parents resisted the idea that anything could be wrong with Dad. It took a year for them to finally open up to the suggestion of him getting checked for dementia. Three years later the symptoms are worse, and it is undeniable that he is losing the battle with this disease. Every day is a battle against grief, frustration and exhaustion, but dealing with the issue became much easier once my parents moved past their denial and our family was on the same page again.
Your experience mirrors our own. We look at a parent who once read just about every book published and now cannot read. We remember the amazing trips she planned and her great love of Broadway musical. And we grieve. I read on your blog about the holidays and how they feel at this point. Very thoughtful.
I know what you mean! Grief is a major aspect of this experience; how it grows, how it can and cannot be expressed, whether outside supporters realize just how deep our grief goes and whether they share in this grief or tell us to ‘keep our chin up’… That’s another blog post for another day, I suppose. 🙂
Thanks again for your comments, and for this blog. Your introduction under “Being a Grown-up Child” are very moving. I look forward to reading more of your posts! 🙂